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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 348249, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/348249
Review Article

Beyond the “I” in the Obesity Epidemic: A Review of Social Relational and Network Interventions on Obesity

1School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University, 28 Division Street Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 3N6
2Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 2N8
3Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University, 1001 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1G5

Received 12 April 2013; Accepted 24 July 2013

Academic Editor: Terry Huang

Copyright © 2013 Janette S. Leroux et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Background. Recent research has shown the importance of networks in the spread of obesity. Yet, the translation of research on social networks and obesity into health promotion practice has been slow. Objectives. To review the types of obesity interventions targeting social relational factors. Methods. Six databases were searched in January 2013. A Boolean search was employed with the following sets of terms: (1) social dimensions: social capital, cohesion, collective efficacy, support, social networks, or trust; (2) intervention type: intervention, experiment, program, trial, or policy; and (3) obesity in the title or abstract. Titles and abstracts were reviewed. Articles were included if they described an obesity intervention with the social relational component central. Articles were assessed on the social relational factor(s) addressed, social ecological level(s) targeted, the intervention’s theoretical approach, and the conceptual placement of the social relational component in the intervention. Results. Database searches and final article screening yielded 30 articles. Findings suggested that (1) social support was most often targeted; (2) few interventions were beyond the individual level; (3) most interventions were framed on behaviour change theories; and (4) the social relational component tended to be conceptually ancillary to the intervention. Conclusions. Theoretically and practically, social networks remain marginal to current interventions addressing obesity.